Car bombs across Baghdad kill at least 33

0815baghdadcarbomb.jpg

Iraqis inspect the scene of a car bomb attack near the office of Al-Ahad television channel, which is affiliated with a Shiite militant group, in Baghdad's eastern neighbourhood of Baladiyat on August 15, 2013.

Credit:

ALI AL-SAADI

Car bombs exploded across Baghdad on Thursday, including near the city's "Green Zone" diplomatic complex, raising the death toll in Iraq to levels not seen since 2008.

The attacks killed at least 33 people and wounded 100.

Violence has been on the rise across Iraq since an April crackdown on a Sunni protest camp.

Militant groups, including Al Qaeda, have increased attacks against Iraq's Shiite-led government, raising fears of a return to full-blown sectarian conflict after US troops withdrew 18 months ago.

"Cowardly terrorists targeted unarmed citizens in seven places in Baghdad," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry put the death toll far lower, saying only three people were killed and 44 wounded in the violence.

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One bomb exploded near a bus station in the northern Shiite neighborhood of Khazimiyah, killing eight people and wounding 18, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Another exploded roughly 200 meters outside the city's international 'Green Zone, which killed four and wounded 12.

The central zone is a highly-fortified area housing Western embassies including the US mission. The nearby Iraqi ministry has been a frequent target of attacks.

Another blast struck near repair shops in the city's northeastern suburb of Husseiniyah.

Mohammed Sabri, a retired government employee, told the Wall Street Journal he heard the explosion.

"I got closer and saw burning cars, two charred bodies and several people on the ground," he said.

"Security officials keep telling us that their forces are able to protect us, but this has not happened yet."

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

The government has launched a security sweep to try to round up suspected militants, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday the crackdown would continue.

Reuters contributed to this report.